Everyone’s all atwitter about Chipotle right now. Why? Because they’re redefining the fast-casual food industry with organic ingredients, sustainably farmed food, and a fresh, new way of managing people. Even those of us who work outside the hospitality industry can learn a few things from their success:
Change is Good – Chipotle didn’t start out focused on “food with integrity.” But when owner Steve Ells saw that his product was out of sync with his values, he made the change. What can you learn from that? Instead of locking in your products and counting on their sustained success, lock in your core values. When your products or services diverge, make the necessary changes to get back on track.
People Count – Chipotle puts as much energy into hiring and nurturing their people as they do sourcing fresh, natural, wholesome ingredients for your burrito. And they put their money where their mouths are, too. Employee salaries and raises come from cultivating their colleagues, not spiking store sales. It’s a bold new way of running things that’s working wonders.
Simplicity is Key – Chipotle’s menu says, “Start with the basics and customize as needed.” That’s great advice for your business, too. It’s easy to get overly invested in a heavily detailed process … one that micromanages every part of your customer experience. But before long there’s no humanity left and people start to drift away. Wouldn’t it be better to ease up on the structure and let your passionate, well-informed employees breathe life back into your process?
Pacing is Everything – When Chipotle makes changes to their business or their ingredients, they make them one step at a time. Steve Ells didn’t switch to sustainable farming and organic ingredients over night. He did it in a considered way over a series of years. The same is true for their highly lauded management style. They implemented it one person, one store, one region at a time. Doing so ensured that they got it right the first time.
Stories Rule – Chipotle can’t compete with big chain marketing budgets. But they’ve got something better: a story to tell and an army of committed, knowledgeable employees who can share their passion for good, nutritious food with the world. It’s this story that helped the company’s scarecrow video rack up almost 13 million views.